As a result of wage settlements resulting from the provincial arbitration system, the costs of emergency services have increased at over three times the rate of inflation annually since 2002.
Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, formally released an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne addressing deficiencies in the arbitration system. Cc’d on the letter were Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro.
As recognized in the letter, the cost escalation resulting from settlements is unsustainable, particularly in an era of fiscal restraint generally, and especially in an environment where municipalities are greatly restricted in their options to raise new revenue.
“Our principal concern is that the current system does not adequately consider the capacity of municipalities to pay” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “In order to ensure the fiscal sustainability of municipalities, we believe that immediate action is required to address deficiencies within the provincial interest arbitration system.”
Therefore, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Ontario Government to take 3 important steps:
- Reform the provincial interest arbitration system to reflect the current capacity of Ontario municipalities to pay for increased service costs
- Improve efficiency by requiring that arbitration decisions be delivered in less than 12 months.
- Improve accountability and transparency for the taxpayer.